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The Untold Secret of Social Success: 4 Reasons to Build Social Programs With Staff (and Their Spouses) in Mind

October 13, 2016

[julia kim]
[julia kim]

Back in 2013, my employer engaged in one of the biggest customer segmentation exercises we’d ever done. We took our 10 million customers and divided them into four customer segments to better help us reach and engage with a massive customer base that was both diverse and geographically extensive. (Texas is big, after all.)

But it wasn’t until three years later that we realized we had missed a huge opportunity and inadvertently skipped over one of the most important (if not the most important) customer groups we had: our employees and their networks of family and friends.

The genesis of that realization came from — of all places — Facebook. As we reviewed our page’s social analytics, we saw that the best-performing content was always about our employees, and in some cases by our employees. Those posts generated the highest engagement — quadruple the amount seen from other content types that were geared toward the four customer segments we created in 2013.

But most important, the people commenting, Liking and sharing that content were the Facebook friends of our employees — more specifically, their spouses represented our top-performing segment, with an overall click-through rate of 1.22 percent (compared with an average of 0.9 percent). And as we saw them commenting — more and more as time passed — we wanted to engage with them on a deeper level, because not doing so would have ignored our most active followers. But to do that, we had to find a way to shift our social strategies to put employees and their families near the epicenter of those efforts.

That’s when (and why) we created a fifth customer group to test for Facebook and, if successful, to apply to other marketing strategies. Through targeted Facebook advertising, that group would specifically cater to their employees, spouses, friends and family. Driven largely by direct targeting to Facebook friends of fans, we’ve seen substantial engagement that has outperformed every other targeted group we’ve indexed.

In the months since, our social program has flourished, evidenced by more followers, Likes, shares and impressions than we’ve ever had. After investing almost 30 percent of our Facebook ad buys on this segment alone, we’ve grown a thriving Facebook presence that encourages our employees’ active involvement, as well as the involvement of their friends and family members.

The Pew Research Center estimates that the median number of Facebook friends a person has is 338, so if you considered that alone, it would give enough rationale to provide good content to employee networks. After all, if you have just 100 employees who are engaged with your social presence, that’s a potential network of 33,800 people.

That’s a pretty solid reason to at least consider employee inclusion. But there’s more to the story, because it goes well beyond numbers and metrics to something more meaningful. Here’s why we did it and why it can impact a business’ social presence in powerful ways:

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